Less than four months before his scheduled fight with Mexican champ Antonio Margarito, Sarangani Congressman Emmanuel Manny Dapidran Pacquiao faced a different fight as a neophyte lawmaker. The Pacman delivered his first privilege speech as a member of the 15th Philippine Congress.
Last Tuesday the 7-division world champion delivered one of the most awaited speeches in Congress. With his usual charm and accent, he delivered his plans for his province in English with some Tagalog infused.
The boxing superstar said he is still amazed how he made it to the House of Representatives, and how he at times is star-struck with his fellow lawmakers.
The Pacman narrated how he prepared for this new role as Representative of the lone Legislative District of Sarangani, including studying at the DevelopmentAcademyof the Philippineswhere he finished a 10-day crash course on Development Legislation and Governance.
The Pacman layed down his priorities for Sarangani livelihood, healthcare and education, as printed on the Philippine Star and as reported by ABS-CBN News and GMAs 24 Oras.
Forty percent of the people of Sarangani have no adequate housing, no adequate food, no proper nutrition. For those 40%, its not just statistic, its their daily experience of life. Numbers are very useful for all sorts of things. But numbers dont tell us what something is really like. For that, we need imagination. Better yet, actual experience. For me, poverty was an actual experience. I know what it feels like to do without a home, to do without food. I know what its like to go hungry. That was me for the first half of my life.
Yes I knew hunger, homelessness, and what it was like to want to go to school but unable to do so. Life then seemed hopeless. I still sometimes find it hard to believe that I am now where I am, the Pacman narrated.
As every fan and critic would have known by now, the Pacman is a one-of-kind rags-to-riches story. He dropped out of high school due to extreme poverty. He left his home in GeneralSantosCitywhen he was 14 years old because his mother Aling Dionesia was not making enough money for him and his 5 siblings. Today, that high school dropout is ranked by Sports Illustrated as No. 5 highest-earning international athlete.
During his campaign, the Congressman pledged to turn around Saranganis economy. He took Dyan Castillejo and Marc Nelson and their Sports Unlimited team on a diving trip to promote Sarangani as a scuba diving destination on the day after he was sworn into office.
The Congressman continued to explain that Sarangani is a one livelihood province that relies primarily on fishing. But why should we confine ourselves to fishing? We also have corn, rice and coconut. These industries are crying out to be improved. And that is one of the things we will do. We will improve the production, post-harvest and marketing processes of corn, rice and coconut. Yes! We are going to diversify.
Livelihood is the first important thing on our agenda. Without a source of livelihood, people go hungry. There are two other things just as crucial. One of them is health. Did you know that Sarangani does not have a provincial hospital? Establishing one must obviously be a top priority. the Pacman stressed. He added that aside from infrastructure, he will work on expanding PhilHealth benefits and other medical services in his province.
We are going to make sure that there is continuous educational upgrading in Saranganiwe will coordinate with TESDA (Technical Educational and Skills Development Authority) on what the most relevant and useful programs are. We are also going to put up the Placement Assistance Coordination and Manpower Assessment Network centers, or PACMAN centers for short, he continued.
I can barely contain my excitement about what Sarangani can become, will become. I am eager too that I will be part of these improvements in my province, he said.
First Olympic Gold
The Pacman appealed to his colleagues, But I have a special request to make of you, my colleagues, and of the people of Sarangani. There is something else I want to contribute and I hope you will give me your blessing. I want to do something for the Filipino athlete. I want us to work together, and to work very hard, to win the first Filipino gold medal in the Olympics, especially this coming 2012.
The Pacman also thanked his wife Jinkee for her loving supportand every Filipino who has ever watched and cheered for Manny Pacquiao.
The Pacman told his colleagues that he had asked himself frequently Can I be a good congressman? And my resounding answer is, with my heart in the right place, my work ethic, my discipline and my commitment to learn from wiser and more experienced people such as all of you here today, yes, I can be a good congressman.
In closing , the Congressman Manny Pacquiao said, So lets get started on this road to progress. I am tempted to quote Robert Frost The woods are lively, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep. However, in the effervescence of my youth, I choose Michael Buffers famous line Lets get ready to rumble! But in the same fashion that I end my fights, let me leave you with this prayer that I carry with me all these years God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
Much like the way he ends a fight, Pacman the Congressman received a resounding applause./?ref=home#!/joferdine
Pacman delivers 1st House speech. Jess Diaz. The Philippine Star Vol XXV No. 1 July 28, 2010.